Article Number Thirty Five - Covenent to Build the First Meeting House - 1792

Written by Joshua G. Borthwick and originally published
on January 26, 1884, in the Catskill "Examiner". Copy provided by the Durham Center Museum and retyped by Annette Campbell


July 5, 1792. Pursuant to the adjournment, the people who were interested in the formation of a religious Society and the building of a better house of worship, met and signed the following Covenant.

 
"Whereas a Covenant has been held up and actually signed by many persons, bearing date 5th day of June, 1792, to form a Society, build a meeting house etc.; the place held is the Southwest corner of the improved lands of Mr. Phineas Canfield, on the North side of the highway; and Whereas it is thought that it would better accommodate the Inhabitants of Durham Settlement, and that a far greater number would sign to build a House, near where our present Meeting house now stands; this Covenant is now held up on the following condition, viz: It is to be considered as a second to the other , and free for those to sign who have signed the other Covenant as well as for others; and in case that doth not take effect, and such a number should sign this that the Committee chosen by the Society to call a meeting for the purpose of choosing Trustees, etc., shall think proper, they are hereby desired and authorized to call a meeting according to the instructions given them by their appointment.
 
This Covenant made by the people of the vicinity of Freehold, whose names are hereunto annexed:   Witnesseth that, we being By the Grace of God free and independent, Do of our own voluntary act and free choice, mutually agree and Covenant to form a Society for the support of the Gospel Ministry upon Presbyterian principles: engaging and firmly binding ourselves, that so long as we shall continue to reside within four miles of the Meeting house that we shall build in said Society, we will submit to be ruled by the majority of votes in all laws, and in all meetings of said Society, proper notice being given at least five days before said meeting; and the annual meeting of said Society shall be held on the first Monday of November, at 1 o'clock afternoon, annually, until otherwise directed by some annual meeting, and a decision of such meeting shall be binding on us and on our Estates in all matters respecting the support of the Gospel Ministry, and necessary accommodations therefore; and the place to erect an Ediface shall be as near the present place of public worship, as conveniently may be, at the direction of the Trustees for the time being when said House shall be built.
 
And we do further Covenant to choose and appoint Trustees according to an Act of the Legislature, passed the sixth day of April, in the year of our Lord 1784, Entitled,  an "Act to enable all the religious denominations in this State to appoint Trustees, for the purpose of taking care of the temporalities of their respective Societies or Congregations, and for other purposes therein mentioned."  And our Trustees shall forthwith upon their appointment, open subscriptions for the purpose of building a Meeting house, and shall annually hold up subscriptions for free donations for the support of the Ministry; and if in either case, enough shall not be given, they shall proceed according to law, to tax, setting to the credit of those who are subjects of Taxation, what they may have generously given; and return the remainder on their desire, if any there be; and in case any overplus shall remain in the hands of the Trustees, it shall be considered as Society Stock, and be by them improved according to law; thus covenanting and agreeing, we have hereunto set our hands and seals. Dated in Freehold, County of Albany, State of New York, July the 5th, 1792.
 
                      Toleration to the within Covenant:
 
The condition of the Covenant is such that nothing therein contained shall be construed to the prejudice of those persons who may conscientiously dissent from our form or mode of worship, but they shall have full liberty of the privileges of Toleration, enjoyed by the free Citizens of the United States. And whenever they shall fully and freely join any other well regulated Society of Christian people, and usually attending and actually paying to the support of the Gospel with them and bringing a Certificate thereof from some proper officer or principal member of their church to the acceptance of the Trustees of our Society, that the have removed their standing and are no longer to be considered as members of our Society.
 
We have no means of knowing how many signed the first Covenant thus indicating their preference for Canfield Hill, as that Covenant was dated June 5, 1792, and the original paper is lost; but there are eighty-five names attached to the second Covenant which we have just copied, thus giving a large majority in favor of Meeting house hill. This list of one hundred and five names as given in our last Sketch are to be considered as belonging to those in favor of the project of building a new Meeting house somewhere, and it was dated May 16, 1792, we conclude that it was simply a subscription paper and preliminary to the Covenants. There are several new names attached to the second Covenant, viz:  Miles Cooper, Abner Cooper, Seth Bronson, Theodore Morgan, Ezekiel Smith, Aaron Person, Elias Osborn, and John Bland.
 
Sept. 3, 1792. The people met and the following is a copy of their proceedings.
 
" At a meeting held at Durham, in the town of Freehold, and county of Albany, on the third day of September, in the year of our Lord 1792, for the purpose of forming into a Society, Deacon Christopher Lord was chosen Moderator and Daniel Brown. Clerk.
 
1st.  Voted that the second Covenant so called, bearing the date the fifth day of July, 1792, shall be adopted, and the first Covenant made void.
 
2nd. Voted that there shall be five Trustees chosen to preside over said Society.
 
3rd.  Made choice of Messrs. Lemuel Hotchkiss, David Coe, David Cowles, Joseph Hart and Elihu Hart for said Trustees. Daniel Brown, Clerk.
 
Soon after, they made the following record: "At a Society meeting holden at Durham on the seventeenth day of October, 1792, Mr. John Giddings. Moderator.  Voted that the Society give the Rev. Jonathan Bird a call upon probation to settle as our minister.
 
Voted that Messrs Elihu Hart, Joseph Hart, Daniel Coe, Lemuel Hotchkiss, James Holcomb  and Daniel Merwin be appointed a Committee to agree with the Rev. Mr. Bird upon the terms of his settlement.
 
Voted that the meetings be held this Winter in the new School house.  Signed: Daniel Brown, Clerk.

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